In Unitarian-Universalism, we gather ourselves and our faith around seven Principles. Our Principles are not religious dogma in content. They are ethical principles in that they embody rather explicitly the things we value. They allow us to bring stories and content both religious and otherwise to them to help us reflect on how to live their wisdom. As such, they are or can be points of return for us. I think of points of return as those places, ideas, people and memories to which we return to find our center, to find our moorings, to find the clarity we need in order to make decisions, to move forward, to create.
2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
The English word “respect” comes to us from a Latin word that means “to look again” or “to take a second look.” This is the call of our second Unitarian Universalist principle. It is a principle shared by many other religious traditions expressed in various ways. It is the call to return to human relations of all kinds and have a second look. Look again, to see if every human being is getting what they need to survive and thrive. It is the call to return to human relations and ask whether resources and opportunities are available to everyone. Equity in human relations, however, is in my experience a tricky thing. Equity doesn’t always mean “equal” as this now commonly used poster indicates. Determining fairness in every situation is often not easy, and requires curiosity, the courage to keep seeking, and the creativity to move outside the accepted practices and norms.
The second principle goes a step further by insisting that this return again to take a second look at human relations is motivated by compassion. That means, for me, that when I return again, when I take a second look, I begin to find ways to recognize in the other something of my own heart, my own mind, my own emotions, my own physical pain and joy. Rooted in this second principle is the teaching offered by the Torah, the Buddha, by Jesus and others: to love my neighbor as myself.
Today we will be surrounded by, pass by and touched by many “others.” Let’s have a second look. Let’s return again to our human relations and practice this love of our neighbor.